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CAAC: No 787s flying in China

By Tu Lei (Global Times)

08:40, January 18, 2013

Key Words: Boeing Dreamliner 787; CAAC; Boeing

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The nation's air travel regulator said Thursday that no airlines in China are currently flying the Boeing Dreamliner 787, as Boeing's next-generation plane has not received an airworthiness certificate (AC) from the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC).

The announcement was made after several recent Dreamliner incidents which have prompted investigations by the US and other aviation regulators.

According to a report posted on Sina Weibo by the People's Daily, the AC application for the Boeing 787 in China is still ongoing, and when it will be approved depends on cooperation from Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) of the US. The People's Daily quoted the CAAC as saying that "currently, the cooperation is going smoothly."

On Wednesday, Japan's All Nippon Airways, the first carrier worldwide to receive the 787 Dreamliner, reportedly saw smoke which may have been caused by a faulty battery, forcing pilots to make an emergency landing.

It was the seventh Dreamliner incident within 10 days, coming on the heels of fuel leaks and a cracked cockpit window.

After the incident Wednesday, Japan's two biggest airlines grounded all of the country's Dreamliners. The FAA in the US said on the same day that it would issue an emergency airworthiness directive and require Dreamliner operators to temporarily cease running the planes.

"The frequent incidents are mainly connected with newly introduced materials technology," Wang Jiangmin, an expert from aviation information portal, told the Global Times Thursday.

In 2005, Chinese companies signed orders with Boeing worth a total of $7.2 billion for 60 of the highly fuel-efficient 787s, but the planes have been delayed. China Southern, for one, had planned to receive its first Dreamliner in 2008, but none have arrived.

In 2011, China Eastern abandoned orders for 24 of the wide-body aircraft, changing the order to 45 narrow-body 737s.

Outstanding orders by domestic airlines now stand at 41, including 15 from Air China, 10 from China Southern, 10 from Hainan Airlines and 6 from Xiamen Airlines.

Li Cong, in the communications department of Hainan Airlines, which expects to accept five Boeing 787s at the end of 2012, told the Global Times Thursday that the airline has gotten no indication of delays or cancellations, but "the company is negotiating with Boeing on when to deliver the first Boeing 787."

Li Xiaojin, a professor at the Civil Aviation University of China, told the Global Times earlier that the new model will be tested during a breaking-in period, and this "is a good thing" that will help the planes operate better in the future.

On Wednesday, Boeing Chairman, President and CEO Jim McNerney said in a statement that the Dreamliner is a safe aircraft, and "Boeing is committed to supporting the FAA and finding answers as quickly as possible."

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